If you’ve ever ended up with a nasty crick in your neck after falling asleep on a long trip, you know just how important a good travel pillow can be.
Particularly vital when traveling overseas or on redeye flights, a quality travel pillow will cradle your neck and prevent all the discomfort that often comes with trying to fall asleep while in a seat.
Don’t just settle for those overpriced pieces of junk you might find in some airport store while you’re waiting for your flight, though.
Not all travel pillows provide anywhere close to the degree of support you need, so you’ve got to know what you’re doing!
What to Look for in a Travel Pillow
There are a couple different factors you’re probably going to want to take into account before settling on any of the options out there today.
Believe it or not, there’s actually a huge variety of different travel pillow shapes and sizes available, many of which go way beyond the classic “U” shape you’re probably used to.
Even at its best, travel is always somewhat stressful, so knowing the exact kind of travel pillow you need will give you one less thing to worry about!
How Portable Is the Travel Pillow?
Space is often a pretty major issue when it comes to travelling, so a lot of the time you’ll probably want your pillow to be as portable as possible.
As you’ll see, some travel pillow designs are more compact than others.
Some are easily compressible and can just be tucked away in with your luggage once you’re finished.
Others, however, may be a bit more of a challenge.
Think about your suitcase before you settle on any of these products, or you might wind up with a pillow you don’t actually have space for!
What Shape Is the Travel Pillow?
Although the U-shaped neck pillow is probably the most common design out there today, you’ve actually got a lot more options than you probably realize.
Not everybody sleeps the same way, and individuals who tend to experience pain in certain parts of their body will probably be better off with designs that ease pressure on those areas as much as possible.
A person who likes to sleep with their head cocked to one side is going to have different needs from someone whose head tends to drooped to their chest, or someone who sleeps with their head turned upwards, and so on.
Some shapes on here might also look a little ridiculous both to you and the people around you, so you may also have to weigh your comfort against your pride.
It’s not an easy decision to make – but such is the price of travel!
How to Get Better Sleep When Traveling with a Travel Pillow
On top of getting yourself a solid travel pillow, there are also a couple nifty tricks you can use to keep yourself well-rested while off on your globe-trotting adventures.
It’s all too easy to just take it for granted you’ll be sacrificing sleep while out in the wide, wide world, but that doesn’t always have to be true.
Consider a Sleep Mask
First of all, you may want to consider investing in a decent sleep mask (rather than just relying on whatever your airline provides you with).
Blocking out light is one of the easiest ways to get yourself ready for sleep – and if you’re going to be crossing many time zones, this kind of darkness might be just what you need.
Your brain naturally releases the sleep hormone melatonin in response to the dark, so a sleep mask can prime your body to work with you instead of against you!
Consider Melatonin Pills
If you’re about to be in for a nasty case of jetlag, it might also be worth the money to get some straight-up melatonin pills.
These are incredibly inexpensive and can be bought without any kind of prescription at your local drug store.
Melatonin pills come with no major side effects – all they do is help your body’s internal clock reset to your current time zone.
Once you get to your destination, it might take your brain a couple days before it gets your sleep hormones under control, so until then, popping a melatonin pill about 20 minutes before your new bedtime can be a lifesaver.
Don’t Forget Your Headphones
Many people also find it helpful to bring a pair of headphones with them while traveling.
Soothing music has been shown to improve sleep quality in a number of different circumstances, and travel is no exception.
Familiar music can provide a degree of comfort when traveling to a strange place – and also drown out the sounds of whatever annoying kids or screaming babies might also happen to be in the cabin.
The Top 5 Travel Pillows
Alright, now enough of the chitchat – let’s get to the travel pillows!
Without further ado, here they are…
The top five travel pillows of 2021!
|Shape||Classic U-shaped tube||Rounded hourglass shape||Figure 8 (Mobius strip)||Cloth wrapped around a plastic frame||More ergonomic U-shape|
|Notes||Comes with ear plugs and a sleep mask||Soft and inflatable; straps onto headrests as a cushion||Incredibly versatile; wraps any which way||360 degree support||Therapeutic design|
The AERIS Travel Pillow
First up, we have the AERIS Travel Pillow.
The design on this thing is pretty traditional as far as neck pillow go: it’s got that classic U shape, so you’ll be getting the right amount of support no matter which way you try to rest your neck.
On top of the pillow itself, the AERIS also comes with a pair of attached ear plugs, as well as a travel bag and satiny sleep mask to block out any excess light.
One of the biggest advantages of this product is that it’s made of true viscoelastic memory foam, allowing it to conform perfectly in response to the shape of your neck.
Every nook and cranny of your head is going to be getting truly top-notch support!
The Huzi Infinity Pillow
The next travel pillow has a pretty unorthodox design, and some shoppers might be a little apprehensive by just how strange it looks.
Shaped in the figure eight of a comfy Mobius strip, the Huzi Infinity Pillow was designed with one goal in mind: versatility.
You can wrap this thing around your head and shoulders pretty much any way you want – the only issue is figuring out how.
Wrap it around your neck for a soft cocoon while flying, tuck it around your shoulders to rest your head on a desk, tuck it around your ears to block out noise…
There’s pretty much no limit to the number of uses you can find for the Huzi.
You’ll be the envy of the entire plane!
The AirComfy Ease Pillow
Next up, we have the AirComfy Ease Inflatable Travel Pillow.
As the name suggests, this pillow is inflatable, making it perfect for trips where you’re trying to cut down on space.
You can just squeeze the air right out of this thing the minute you’re done with it, and it takes up hardly any room at all!
Designed for both neck and lower back support, the AirComfy is pretty fluffy and comes with an adjustable elastic strap – so you can just slip this overtop of the head of whatever seat you’re sitting on, and you’ve got an instant pillow!
Not only that, but the AirComfy’s velvet cover is also easily removable and washable, so you won’t really have to worry about stains.
The Trtl Pillow
Perhaps stranger still than even the Huzi, we have the Trtl Pillow (pronounced “turtle”).
This thing provides just about the weirdest kind of neck support you could imagine – but thousands of reviewers swear by it, so who are we to question?
Basically, this is just a bundle of comfortable fleece fabric wrapped around a curved plastic frame.
When you want to sleep, all you have to do is tuck that plastic core in the nook between your head and shoulders and unfurl the fabric.
Then, gently wrap the fabric around your neck until your head is basically resting on a giant turtleneck (trtlneck?), and you’re all set for a snooze!
This thing is incredible portable (it bundles up easily into an ultra-compact space), and the manufacturers claim it has a much easier time holding your head in a comfortable position than your typical U-shaped pillow.
That makes sense, too.
Your head gets complete 360 degree support, and you can rest in a truly natural position.
The Travelrest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow
Finally, there’s the Travelrest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow.
This product is a lot like the AERIS and other classic travel pillows, only it’s built to be slightly more ergonomic.
Rather than just being a curved cylinder, the Travelrest is built with a therapeutic design with special contoured shoulder cutouts and a shape that actually cradles your head.
Like the AERIS, it’s made with memory foam for maximum comfort, and it’ll compress down to a quarter of its original size in a complimentary stuff sack.
It’s the neck pillow, reimagined.
Conclusion About the Best Travel Pillows
So, there you have it – the absolute best travel pillows on the market today!
Hopefully, you should be in a pretty good place now to start making your final decision.
A restful sleep is often the first step to a fantastic trip, and really, when you’re traveling, it really pays to get sleep wherever you can find it.
Happy shopping, sleepyheads – and bon voyage!
Founder and Owner
Ted is the founder and owner of Mattress Guides and is an expert in his field. Ted believes that having the right mattress is key to getting a good night’s sleep and feeling well-rested in the morning.
Updated at November 11, 2020